Did you know October is National Physical Therapy Month? The American Physical Therapy Association created this observance to “educate consumers about the unique benefits of physical therapy treatments”. In celebration, brush up on the basics of physical therapy.

Ease daily pain with physical therapy.

There are a variety of chronic issues—many of which affect seniors—that can be eased with regular physical therapy, such as: Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Vertigo, Incontinence, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Stroke recovery, and , any physical pain in the body.

It can also be used for preventative measures.

It is commonly known that many experience mobility issues and joint pain as they age. Those with arthritis may be prescribed pain medications from their doctors, as well as drugs that can better increase the lubrication in their joints to ease the chronic aches. Medicine isn’t the only option though, and many seniors choose to partake in physical therapy to help them manage pain and better heal.

Reap the benefits of physical therapy without injury.

Improved balance – seniors often experience balance issues, due to different reasons such as inner ear problems or medications’ side effects that lead to dizziness and vertigo. If your senior loved one has balance issues, consider consulting a doctor to change prescription type or dosage to see if it helps. Light physical therapy can also help them learn how to balance better.

Post-surgical assistance – physical therapy is an important step in the healing process, geared toward slow progress that helps people heal while still pushing themselves to learn their new limits. Without the helpful encouragement of physical therapy, some would never be independently mobile after surgery. If you or a family member requires surgery, be sure to ask a doctor about post-surgical care, including physical therapy. A common example of this is hip injuries among seniors, which may lead to surgery. Most physicians recommend that seniors go through physical therapy to relearn how to walk with their new hips.

Increased endurance – physical therapy can help people regain their strength after muscle loss, and increase their physical endurance for an overall better quality of life by reducing the risk of falls, infection, and additional pain.

Physical therapy is about easing pain, improving blood circulation, and helping the body heal. It can also help increase a person’s confidence by regaining independence post-surgery or while dealing with chronic health conditions.

The length of the physical therapy treatment process varies from person to person. Physicians can work with therapists to establish treatment plans and monitor progress, making adjustments and improvements as needed.

Different types of physical therapy

Seniorliving.org breaks down the variety of therapy modalities:

Manual therapy is when the therapist uses his or her hands in an attempt to relax the patient, reduce their pain, and increase flexibility. This modality includes:

  • Massaging muscles to relax the patient, improve circulation, and relieve pain.
  • Mobilization, which utilizes slow movements to put joints and bones back into place. This can help to loosen tight joint tissues and increase flexibility.
  • Manipulation, composed of quick, forceful movements to relieve pain and realign joints and bones.

Cold therapy utilizes ice packs to help relieve pain, swelling, and inflammation from various conditions, especially arthritis.

Heat therapy is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Heat relaxes muscles and improves blood circulation. In turn, this helps loosen stiff joints from osteoarthritis or other immobilizing conditions.

Hydrotherapy uses water to treat diseases, increase blood flow, and promote relaxation so the body can heal.

Electrical stimulation uses electrical current to reduce pain and contract muscles in arthritis sufferers and people in stroke recovery.

Ultrasound reduces muscles spasms and relaxes muscles using high-pitched sound waves.

Ultimately, physical therapy can greatly improve the quality of life for seniors, which in turn gives families some peace of mind. Consulate Health Care knows that “every moment matters,” and physical therapy forms a major piece of making each one count.

Learn what Consulate Health Care’s network of providers offer, and find a care center location near you.

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